Guiding Light: The Mission Objective Guidance system

By CCP SoniClover
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Hello Capsuleers! This is CCP SoniClover on behalf of Team Banana Stand, telling you about one of our new features in Phoebe: Mission Objective Guidance. Mission Objective Guidance is a system intended to aid people in completing missions they’ve accepted by giving hints on what to do next to progress or complete the mission.

There were several reasons for going for this feature, the two main ones being to reduce likelihood of players becoming confused or frustrated when doing a mission and to allow us to start delving into the pretty arcane agent/mission code for future work on the framework of missions.

In deciding on how the feature should function, we had two general rules of thumb. One was to make this as unobtrusive as possible and the other was to avoid having hints lead the player by the nose too much. As such, the guidance provided indicates the general direction or area to focus on, but should not be completely brain-dead instructions to follow. This is of course a fine line to tread, so please let us know where you feel we stand here.

So let’s go over how the Mission Objective Guidance system works in a bit more detail.

The system uses the Agent info panel in the upper left corner of the screen. This means you can turn the guidance system on or off alongside the panel (by clicking the human silhouette icon to the left of the header).  To the left of the mission name in the panel, there is now an icon that hints at the state for that mission. Here is an example:

This icon is then updated when the player does something that progresses the mission to a new state. Here is another icon example:

When a mission is completed, the icon changes to the mission complete icon:

To get more information, the player can mouse-over the mission to get a tooltip with further information. This information depends on the mission and the current state of it. Let’s look at a few examples:

Notice here that the hint tells the player what item he needs, but doesn’t tell him where that item is.

Another example:

This is a common tooltip for instance when you need to kill all NPCs to activate the acceleration gate to the next deadspace complex area.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the states or tooltips. We’ll have that in the patch notes, so check them out when they are published for more details.

The mission system is an old bastard in many ways and creating a generic system to cover all the ancient snowflakes still floating around in it is far from easy. So while the Mission Objective Guidance system does cover the vast majority of missions, there are a few for which we can only give very vague hints. Often, this means simply telling the player to refer to the Journal for further information.

To help players a bit more, we have a few graphical elements to emphasize what’s going on.

  • When a state changes, the icon in the agent info panel blinks to indicate this.
  • When the mission is specifying a particular object, for instance a structure to destroy, clicking on the state icon will move the camera to show the object. This will only work if you have the camera tracking on. This is an exception to the rule of not giving too strong hints, because we want to improve how players can find objects in the space scene without having to resort to the overview.
  • If the tooltip references a specific item, clicking on the name of the item in the tooltip will bring up the show info window for that item. This includes destination system, allowing you to set destination.

Future iterations on this feature will cover more of the special snowflake missions that we can’t track adequately at the moment and will possibly offer further polish on the visual side, especially in making people more aware of mission objectives in their surroundings.

The Mission Objective Guidance system is on Singularity right now, so head over there if you want to test it and please give us feedback if you run into anything strange.